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Judges rule on marital property division

January 1, 2008
Trial courts that order parties to sell marital residences can take into account any needed repairs and costs associated with selling residences when figuring the value, as long as those amounts are based on evidence in the record, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today.

A unanimous three-judge appellate panel ruled today in David Keown v. Cynthia Marie Keown, No. 49A02-0706-CV-496, a Marion County case in which the ex-husband challenged a trial court's decision in recalculating the value of the marital residence as part of a dissolution's property division.

Superior Judge Thomas Carroll ordered that Cynthia Keown make necessary repairs to the house and list it for sale as quickly as possible, and in determining the value the judge reduced it by the amount of repairs not yet made to the house and the costs of sale, as well as including interest in David Keown's mother's property that had served as security for a paid-back loan. The total was $1,972 for the repair costs and $6,285.20 for costs of the sale. David challenged that judgment, and the appellate decision affirms the decision.

David argued that his ex-wife could comply with the order but still have no intention of selling the property, such as listing the property for sale at an inflated price or by listing it for a brief period of time.

"We find David's reading of the trial court's order to be unreasonable," the court wrote, noting that he could file a petition to find her in contempt if she willfully disobeyed the dissolution decree.

He didn't object to evidence on cost of sale or needed repairs during the proceedings, and the trial court didn't abuse its discretion in using those as a basis for its decision, the appeals judges ruled.
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